Short-term health insurance in Florida

Short-term health plans in Florida

Short-term plans in Florida can have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months.
Short-term health insurance in Florida once limited pre-existing condition exclusions on plans that were renewable or longer than six months. That ended in mid-2019.
At least seven insurers offer short-term health insurance in Florida.

Who can get short-term health insurance in Florida

Short-term health insurance plans in Florida can be purchased by those who can meet the underwriting guidelines used by insurers. In general, this means being a resident of the Sunshine State under 65 years old (some insurers put the age limit at 64 years) and in fairly good health.

Since short-term health insurance plans typically include blanket exclusions for pre-existing conditions,  they are not adequate for someone who is in need of medical care and seeking a policy that will cover those needs.

If you’re in need of health insurance coverage in Florida, your first step should be to determine whether you’re eligible for a special enrollment period that would allow enrollment in an ACA-compliant major medical plan. There are a variety of qualifying life events that will trigger a special enrollment period and allow you to buy a plan through the health insurance exchange in Florida. These plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, so you can enroll in one (with a premium subsidy if you’re eligible) even if you’re only going to need it for a few months before another policy takes effect.

Florida allows short-term plans to follow new federal duration rules, and has removed the state limits that used to apply to pre-existing condition exclusions

Until October 2, 2018, federal regulations limited short-term health insurance plans to no more than three months in duration, and prohibited renewals. The Trump Administration is now allowing for much longer short-term plans unless a state imposes its own restrictions.

Short-term health insurance in Florida does not limit the duration of plans beyond the federal rules, but prior to June 2019, the state had a statute that limited pre-existing condition exclusions on plans with terms of longer than six months. Florida Statute 627.6045 states that health plans cannot exclude pre-existing conditions for more than 24 months, and cannot look back more than 24 months to determine whether an applicant has pre-existing conditions. The law also says that a person who has prior continuous coverage (that’s at least as robust as the new coverage) during the 24 previous months is not subject to pre-existing condition exclusions. But prior to June 2019, it specifically exempted nonrenewable short-term plans with terms of no more than six months.

So if a short-term plan was nonrenewable and lasted no more than six months, the insurer could set its own rules regarding pre-existing conditions. But if the plan was renewable and/or had a term of more than six months, the insurer could only look at up to 24 months of medical history to determine whether pre-existing condition exclusions will apply, and could not impose pre-existing condition exclusions at all if the person had continuous creditable coverage during that time.

But in June 2019, Florida enacted S.322, which eliminated the requirement that the health plan be nonrenewable and last less than six months in order to be exempt from Florida’s pre-existing condition rules. The statute now simply says that it doesn’t apply to short-term health insurance in Florida as long as the plan discloses to the applicant that the policy will not cover pre-existing conditions and will not count as qualifying previous coverage if and when the person applies for a new policy under Florida’s pre-existing condition protection rules.

Even before Florida relaxed its rules for short-term plans, the majority of the short-term insurers in Florida were offering plans with initial terms in excess of six months. At least six other insurers were offering plans with initial terms of up to 12 months in late 2018, and some were allowing total duration, including renewals, of up to three years. A closer look at plan brochures for some of those insurers indicated that pre-existing condition lookback periods of up to five years were being used, so it was unclear how well insurers were complying with Florida’s rules regarding pre-existing conditions and longer short-term plans.

As of mid-2020, there are a variety of plans available in Florida with total durations of up to 36 months (including renewals). But Florida Blue confirmed that their short-term medical insurance policies are only available with terms of up to six months.

Short-term plans duration in Florida

There are no state-specific limits on the allowable duration of short-term health insurance in Florida, so the state defaults to the federal regulations. Florida does not consider short-term health plans to be individual health insurance, which is the same as the federal approach. (This is why short-term plans are exempt from ACA regulation.)

Because Florida does not limit short-term plans, the Trump Administration’s new regulations apply in the state. Insurers can offer short-term plans with initial terms up to 364 days and the option to renew for a total duration of up to 36 months.

Insurers are allowed to cap their short-term plans at shorter durations, however, and prohibit renewal if they choose to do so.

Which insurers offer short-term plans in Florida

As of mid-2020, there were at least six insurers offering short-term health insurance in Florida:

Aspen Insurance
Companion Life
Everest Reinsurance
Florida Blue
Independence American Insurance Company
National General
UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule)

A health insurance agent or broker can help you compare the available options for short-term health insurance in Florida and decide which plan will be the best fit for you. Some things you’ll want to consider are the allowable plan durations (some insurers cap their plans at shorter durations than the maximum the state allows), whether the insurer offers guaranteed renewability, and the specific health benefits the plan covers. For example, most short-term health insurance plans do not cover prescription drugs, but some do, so you’ll want to carefully read the details of the plan you’re considering.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re clear on whether the plan imposes specific dollar limits on services such as inpatient care, surgery, etc. (in addition to the plan’s overall benefit maximum). This is particularly important because some websites that sell short-term health insurance also sell fixed indemnity health plans and often present both options together, despite the fact that they are different types of coverage.

Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.

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